In Juba, southern Sudan, a freshly excavated hole sits six feet deep and holds a concrete block that supports a 120-foot tall radio tower. By September, this rural location will be home to a radio station that will broadcast news and education programs 15 hours a day throughout the semi-autonomous region, an area long wracked by conflict.
Ballots for Sudan’s first-ever elections have just been tallied, signifying a step toward peace following the 2005 agreement to end the conflict. Furthering a mission to increase participation in the Sudanese peace process, Sudan Radio Service (SRS) is relocating its headquarters to the city of Juba, in its homeland.
Established by EDC with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, SRS has, since 2003, delivered objective news, education programs, and music in 12 languages from the safety of Nairobi, Kenya. After the ribbon is cut at the new station in Juba, SRS will offer additional programming and increase its current broadcasting from 6 to 15 hours a day.
“Sudan Radio Service will provide the local audience with comprehensive news broadcasts from the new site in Juba,” says EDC’s Jon Newstrom.
For now, the radio station is in Juba in pieces, waiting to be assembled. The contents of three 20 foot-long containers, which were shipped in from New Jersey, will be built into a production room, a talk show studio, and an on-air studio. A separate building will house administrative offices and a kitchen. On approximately two acres leased from the Sudanese government, the 1,200-square-foot station will feature a newsroom as well as a conference room that will double as a classroom.
A small staff will continue to broadcast from Nairobi, and additional reporters will be hired to send out local news on the new FM signal from Juba. Existing SRS bureaus throughout Sudan, as well as special coverage of Darfur through a two-year U.S. Department of State grant, will continue to operate from both Juba and Nairobi.
“We’re looking forward to covering a referendum in January 2011 on whether the south will separate from the north or choose to remain unified. It’s our job to make sure the voters of the largest country in Africa understand their choices,” says Newstrom.
Originally published on July 16, 2010